Mogadishu: The Africa Union (AU) forces, alongside Somali government troops, on Thursday captured several villages in central Somalia’s Hiran region from Al-Shabaab militants, a local official said.
Hiran region mayor Abdifitah Hassan Afrah said the joint forces seized the villages after fierce battles during which the AU fighter jets conducted air strikes on the militants, Xinhua news agency reported.
Afrah said four villages were retaken and the militants took heavy causalities.
“This operation is aimed to liberate all villages controlled by Al-Shabaab in Hiran region, and AU warplanes carried out airstrikes against the enemies to force them to flee these villages,” he said.
He also denied that there were casualties on the joint forces side.
“The fighting was huge and we heard heavy explosions because fighter jets were involved in the battle,” said local resident Adan Said.
White House, October 18:The White House is reacting furiously to a federal judge blocking President Donald Trump’s latest executive Travel Ban order that would have banned entry to travelers from several countries beginning Wednesday.
“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” said a White House statement issued Tuesday shortly after Judge Derrick Watson ruled against restrictions on travelers from six countries the Trump administration said could not provide enough information to meet U.S. security standards.
The travel ban order would have barred to various degrees travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Watson’s temporary restraining order does not interfere with restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.
Justice Department defends White House
The Justice Department “will vigorously defend the president’s lawful action,” the White House said, contending its proclamation restricting travel was issued after an extensive worldwide security review.
The Justice Department called the ruling incorrect and said it will appeal the decision “in an expeditious manner.”
Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said: “While we will comply with any lawful judicial order, we look forward to prevailing in this matter upon appeal.”
No change for North Korea, Venezuela
The new travel order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the United States,'” Judge Watson wrote in his opinion.
The White House argues that its restrictions “are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.”
Officials in the White House are expressing confidence that further judicial review will uphold the president’s action.
Hawaii involved for third time
Consular officials have been told to resume “regular processing of visas” for people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to a State Department official.
The suit on which Judge Watson ruled on Tuesday was filed by the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii and various individuals.
“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”(VOA)
Somalia, October 15, 2017 : Somalia’s president has declared three days of national mourning following a deadly truck bombing Saturday in the capital, Mogadishu, which left many people dead and dozens injured, including a VOA reporter.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo said the country “will observe three days of mourning for innocent victims and flags will be flown at half-mast.”
Farmaajo also called on citizens to unite against terror, saying it is “time to unite and pray together. Terror won’t win.”
Earlier Saturday, the blast occurred near Zobe, a busy intersection in Somalia’s capital, killing more than 50 people, health officials and witnesses said.
Mahad Salad Adan, a Somali lawmaker who sustained a slight wound from the blast, told VOA that more than 100 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the explosion. He said more 200 others were wounded as Mogadishu hospitals struggled to treat the wounded.
Abdulkaidr Mohamed Abdulle, a VOA Somali correspondent in Mogadishu, was among the injured. His wife, Samira Abdirahman Sheikh Adam, confirmed to VOA that he had sustained injuries to his neck, head and right hand.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but similar attacks have been carried out by the Islamic extremist group al Shabab. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida, is trying to overthrow the government in an effort to establish strict Islamic rule.
The United States and the United Nations strongly condemned Saturday’s blast and offered condolence to the lives lost and those wounded in the attack.
Buildings around the area were leveled by the explosion from a truck bomb, and dozens of destroyed cars littered the streets.
Health officials said Saturday’s bombing was the largest blast in recent memory in Mogadishu. They also called for residents to donate blood to help with the wounded.
“For 10 years, I have been in the emergency service. … I cannot tell the exact death toll, but together I can say we have transported hundreds of people on our 10 ambulances,” said Dr. Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adem, director of the Amin ambulance service. “And economically, I think this is the worst (bombing) ever in Mogadishu in a single day.”
Government soldiers had cordoned off the area, and officials said the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers find bodies in the rubble.
Most of the victims were civilians. The exact target of the blast remains unclear, though there are several hotels frequented by government officials and members of various diaspora communities.
“This is a disaster. We ask all Somalis to reach us, to help us in the search of dead bodies under the debris. We appeal to the doctors, to those who have digging machines,” Mogadishu Mayor Tabid Abdi Mohamed said on government radio.
Saturday’s blast came hours after al-Shabab militants regained control of Barire, a strategic Somalian town in a farming area along the Shabelle river, 45 kilometers from Mogadishu.
The explosion also comes two days after Somalia’s defense minister and military chief, who were leading the fight against Islamist militants, both resigned from the government, citing personal reasons.
Some analysts believe militants tend to carry out such attacks when there are security lapses.
“The resignation of the country’s defense and military chiefs gave the militants a gab [opening] to carry out such disastrous attack,” said Mogadishu University’s Dr. Abdul Kadir Liban Isse. (VOA)
Mogadishu, Aug 14, 2015: The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Somalia country polio free on Sunday saying it had not registered any case of polio disease in the last three years.
According to WHO, the country recorded the last case of polio in 2014 in the central part of the country and has remained free from the paralyzing disease ever since. However, the UN health agency warned Somalia calling for the sustained vaccination campaign, as reported by Xinhua.
The head of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean, which covers Somalia, Mohamed Fiqi said: Massive vaccination campaigns and commitment from government and international actors had ensured the polio virus did not recur in the Horn of Africa country.
“As the world edges closer to eradicating polio, keeping alert in countries that have a high risk of polio importation like Somalia is more of a priority than ever,” Fiqi said.
He added, “As we move forward, the polio program in Somalia needs to continue to work to maintain and improve the level of population immunity against polio through target vaccination campaign and strengthening of the routine immunization services and infrastructure.”
The WHO chief warned Somalia remains at risk of importation of the virus from countries- “Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan”, where polio is still being recorded, mentioned Hans India.
Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo appreciated efforts to rid his country of the polio disease which he noted had afflicted many children.
“No cases were found for the past three years and no child was affected by this disease. Many of our children have suffered from polio for many years.
“To eradicate polio was a big success and it was collective effort and commitment by many young men and women who sacrificed their lives,” Farmaajo noted.
The polio-free celebration appears amid the worst outbreak of measles Somalia has seen in years.
Commenced in January 2017, the country is also still responding to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea/cholera.
Polio systems and networks are being used in both interventions.
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